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Can TNA be saved? Only if it deals with its biggest three problems first

Hey! TNA fan. Can we talk? I think you and I need to have a heart to heart.

During what is being called by many the best pro wrestling show of 2015, Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Newsletter dropped this little nugget: Destination America has decided to opt out early of their two year deal with TNA, cancelling all programming effective this September. Translation: if true (and I have no reason to believe it's not; I'll get to why in a bit), then for the second time in as many years, the ordained second biggest company in pro wrestling will have to find a new TV home or risk extinction. If true, TNA will be off the air just nine months after fighting for dear life to get back on the air.

And this is where I begin this heart to heart. Before I begin, I should tell you the following: I haven't watched a full episode of Impact in about a year and a half. It's not that I don't hate TNA. I hated what TNA had become. And yes, by many accounts, TNA has improved in the year and a half since Hulk Hogan left the company. But it's done far too much for my psyche, and as someone who wasn't as ingrained to the company, nor its spiritual predecessor WCW, it was an easy choice—relatively speaking of course—to walk away from it and never look back. As we embark on a second straight year of will it or will it not die, TNA Edition, I'm going to address three main problems the company has going against it—and whether they are fixable. And again, please understand. I'm not coming from a hater's position.

Now the heart-to-heart begins.

(1) Sorry TNA fans, but your company has a perception problem.

And I'm not just talking about the perception advertisers have with wrestling problem (one I'll address momentarily). I'm talking about the perception of being the alternative to WWE. Your company is not THE alternative to WWE. It's AN alternative to WWE. In fact, every wrestling company big and small is an alternative to WWE. Just like Pepsi, Fanta, and every other soft drink on the planet is an alternative to Coke. Or Burger King, Wendy's, and every other fast food joint in the world is an alternative to McDonalds. Or alternative music, rap music, country music, and every other genre is an alternative to pop music.

You see where I'm getting at. TNA's one of many alternatives that, let's be honest, are fighting for the same group of fans: the group of fans that either don't care for WWE, or like more than just WWE on their plate. Hell, TNA people themselves said they were fighting to get the WCW fans back that went away with the end of the Monday Night Wars. While this is admirable, they pretty much threw away getting a firm hold on a new generation of fans that would have been more than happy to give the promotion a chance.

And... I'm sorry, calling your promotion TNA was a bad idea from the outset. At no point was the company name edgy. AT. NO. POINT. WHATSOEVER. It comes off as sophomoric humor. If you vividly recall, Vince Russo himself TNA did not stand for Total Nonstop Action. I'll leave it to you to fill in the rest. Speaking of Russo...

(2) TNA has a credibility problem.

I feel the need to remind wrestling fans (because, let's be honest, some of you need this reminder) that last year, an errant e-mail was a key part in Spike TV saying, screw it, we're outta here. Oh, you... you don't remember the e-mail, do you?

Last summer, Russo errantly copied wrestling reporter Mike Johnson in reference on how he wanted Mike Tenay and Taz to voiceover certain segments on a taped episode of Impact. After trying to do the double back, Russo had no choice but to come clean. But here's the problem: Spike TV, the network that broadcasted Impact for nearly a decade, expressly told TNA to not bring back Vince Russo under any capacity or there would be problems.  It wasn't the final straw that led to TNA getting the axe on Spike, but it definitely played at least a significant part in the decision.

Now comes reports that Destination America, who has an out clause in their TV deal (basically meaning they hold all the leverage—and they're clearly not afraid to use it with Impact Wrestling Unlocked and Greatest Matches both getting the axe earlier this month), will indeed exercise said out clause in the fall. Basically, it comes down to a cost-benefit ratio thing. Sure it outrated just about everything on the network, but up against what they spent on it, it wasn't worth it. Of course, the decision isn't final, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was sooner than later. Unfortunately, TNA's wrestling show suffers the same problem most every wrestling show on television suffers: advertisers don't want to be associated with it because the average wrestling viewer on average is...well, let's be honest... less educated and less wealthy than viewers of other shows.

And now TNA's planning to take legal action against DEM DIRT SHEETS for falsely reporting TNA's future. I believe they tried this last summer. Oh, and this comes at a time when Bischoff/Hervey Productions and Eric Bischoff's son Garett is suing the company for back pay. The #2 pro wrestling company in the world has had a LONG STANDING issue of not paying their workers on time (the most recent time led their production crew to nearly walk out and for their longtime color commentator Taz to actually walk out). And now even Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins fame is saying Dave Meltzer (the man who first reported TNA was on the outs with Destination America) is being worked. You know, Billy, Russo said the last thing last summer too. Look how that worked out.

Oh... and I'm not sure if you checked the taping schedule, but... TNA's gonna tape a bunch of shows a few days before Slammiversary next month... that will air AFTER Slammiversary. WCW in 1993 thinks you're being a bit ridiculous. Oh, and speaking of Slammiversary, that's what you watched Friday night instead of a regularly scheduled episode of Impact. Because... reasons.

They also have a LONG STANDING issue about keeping their employees in the dark about the state of the company. I guess that gives me an easy segue into problem three and the biggest of them all...

(3) TNA has a leadership problem.

Can someone please tell me if Dixie Carter has a clue on how to run a wrestling promotion, how come she hasn't gotten it?

For the unaware, when the promotion first started the Jarretts (Jerry and his son Jeff) used backing from a lot of companies to keep it afloat. One of those companies was HealthSouth. They got busted for fraud and basically had to drop out. Enter Bob Carter and Panda Energy, who bought the 71% HealthSouth gave up for just $250,000. Dixie, Bob's daughter and in no way related to the lady from Designing Women with the same name, is named the company's president, and the rest is history.

Dixie would be what the kids would call a "money mark", basically someone who uses money to rub shoulders with the wrestlers and such. And Dixie invested some of Bob's money in more or less every ex-WWE talent she could get her hands on. And some MMA stars. And some celebrities. And some "celebrities". Throwing good money after bad for the next big star might get you a cheap pop or three, but what happens when the pop dies down? By the way, it was that loyalty to those veterans that cost the company Paul Heyman.

And then came October 2009, the decision that would ultimately begin the no-turning-back fall of TNA: the signings of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. They basically had the run of the place over the next four years. They were in Dixie's ear, and as anyone with a clue will tell you, they look out for them and them only. People of course questioned this decision, and what does Dixie do? She gathers the talent and basically delivers a "my way or the highway" speech. A speech that opened Impact once.

Oh, and lest we forget Dixie's methods of handling career-threatening injuries to wrestlers (Daffney's medical bills weren't covered—until she sued for them; Jesse Sorensen, promised a job for life following his neck surgery, was fired in a cost-cutting spree—and also did not have his medical costs paid). I could list so many more instances where TNA failed to exercise some form of competent leadership (and I'm sure you will in the comments). But I believe we have yet another example in progress.

At this point, I cannot believe a single word that comes out of the mouth of anyone in management associated with TNA. Nor should I.


Gonna surprise you here: yes, they can. But it will have to start with a change in leadership. Someone other than Dixie Carter will have to run the company. She's a laughing stock amongst TNA fans, non-TNA fans, hell, even non-wrestling fans. She smacks of latter-day WCW leadership: a less than steady hand running a far less than steady ship. Who do you bring in? Honestly, I don't have an answer for that, but I'm sure there's someone out there that can straighten this mess.

I think.

But as currently constructed, not only TNA cannot survive, it will not survive. And given the many,  many, MANY chances it's had, it's a shame. People are about to be out of work soon, maybe even in the next few months. And it sucks. I don't hate TNA. I just hate what it's become. It may be better than it was this time a year ago, but like WCW, it may be too little, too late.

What say you? Can TNA's biggest problems be fixed? How so?

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